Anchorman 2: Sequel to Cult Movie, Starring Will Ferrell

Seven years after capturing the heart of his co-anchor and wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is offered the chance of lifetime:  to be in on the world’s first 24-hour global cable news network, GNN, in New York City.

The newsman quickly rounds up his classic news team – sports guy Champ Kind (David Koechner), man on the street Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) – and heads to The Big Apple.  Upon arriving, he is quickly challenged by his strong female boss, Linda Jackson (Meagan Good), Australian multi-millionaire network owner Kench Allenby (Josh Lawson) and a chiseled popular lead anchor, Jack Lime (James Marsden).  It’s up to Ron and the team to find their own way to the top of news – and the top of the ratings.

ANCHORMAN 2:  THE LEGEND CONTINUES is directed by Adam McKay, and is written by Will Ferrell & Adam McKay.  Starring Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner and Christina Applegate. Executive producers are David Householter, Kevin Messick and Jessica Elbaum.  Produced by Judd Apatow, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.  Director of photography is Oliver Wood.  Music by Andrew Feltenstein and John Nau.  Production designer is Clayton Hartley.  Costume designer is Susan Matheson.  The film is edited by Brent White, A.C.E. and Melissa Bretherton.

ANCHORMAN 2 Director/Co-writer/Producer ADAM McKAY and Star/Co-writer/Producer WILL FERRELL have apparently always shared one comedic brain.  “We think the same things are funny – and that’s half the battle,” says Ferrell.

The two easily finish each other’s lines while writing, Ferrell explains.  “He’ll throw lines out, and that triggers thoughts in my head, and we’ll just feed off each other, back and forth,” he explains.  “It so was so easy and fun to work together, that we eventually just said, ‘Why don’t we try writing a script?’  That’s how it started.”

The first Burgundy film, “Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy,” released by DreamWorks in the summer of 2004, came about after Ferrell had seen a Philadelphia news anchor paired with a woman for the first time.  “I said to Adam, ‘What if we base a story in the 70s news world, about the first time a woman comes into that world, and how these men are just petulant, and she’s smarter and more capable?’” he recalls.  McKay agreed, and the two brought the idea to producer JUDD APATOW, creating one of the most successful creative partnerships in Hollywood today.  “Getting to work with Will and Adam has been one of the highlights of my career,” says Apatow. “Just being allowed to watch them do what they do on set is a comedy nerd’s dream.”

While the McKay/Ferrell/Apatow trifecta reteamed for the comedy hits “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” and “Step Brothers,” the original “Anchorman” was quietly growing into a phenomenon. “It’s kind of grown into cult status,” Ferrell notes.  “Anchors on ESPN SportCenter refer to the San Diego Chargers as ‘the San-de-AH-go Chargers,’” a reference to Ron Burgundy’s now-classic mispronunciation of his home city’s name. “And we got a photo e-mailed to us of a troop transport carrier in the middle of Baghdad with a stencil of Ron Burgundy’s face that said, ‘Stay Classy Baghdad,’” paraphrasing Burgundy’s popular sign-off.  “It just keeps coming up in pop culture.  People in news tell us all the time they know somebody like Burgundy.  And the fan base keeps growing.”

By 2010, with several projects completed together in between, Ferrell and McKay began considering a sequel.  “We weren’t really huge proponents of sequels,” Ferrell says.  “It’s a tall order to fill, and, creatively, you ask yourself why do a sequel, when you could just write an original movie?  But if we were going to do a sequel to any of our projects, this would be the one.”  McKay agrees.  “The first ANCHORMAN was the first movie I had directed, so it was new.  But let’s face it, 70% of sequels aren’t as good as the first one – a lot because the element of surprise is gone, people know what’s coming.”

Ferrell and McKay began thinking of story ideas – something that would bring the news team’s world forward.  “The challenge for us was to have the same feel, to pay homage to some of the elements of first movie, but, at the same time, give it a feel of not only a brand new story, but one that’s satisfying and feels completely different,” Ferrell says.  “One that, even if you haven’t seen the first one, can stand on its own.”

That aspect was helped by the fact that it had been nine years since the last film.  “Adam and Will have lived with these characters for almost ten years,” comments STEVE CARELL.  CHRISTINA APPLEGATE agrees.  “They wanted to leave well enough alone, and I think that was actually a smarter way to go.  We waited ten years, as opposed to three, like a lot of sequels, and I think that’s allowed more people to get to know the original movie.  Now it’s like an anniversary.”

The duo pitched a number of ideas, most of them outlandish, of course.  “There was one where the news team explores the moon for no good reason,” Ferrell remembers.  McKay even thought of a prequel.  “When we were shooting the first one,” he says, “we talked about doing the prequel and having Burgundy in Vietnam, covering the war, and having him meet the news team over there.”  The hero, of course, would have been Brick Tamland, a highly-decorated lieutenant.  “But one day an explosion went off, and he was never the same again, and that’s why they love him so much and are always cool with him.”

Eventually, McKay and Ferrell found themselves talking about the introduction of cable TV and the media explosion that began to happen in 1980.  “If you do any research,” Ferrell says, “you realize that was a crucial year.  Prior to that, there were just three or four channels in most cities, but then this explosion happened.  Once you pass that point, it becomes modern television – and modern news – as we know it.”  It was a perfect fit to overwhelm the pompous Burgundy, McKay says.  “We kept talking about it, and we realized, ‘That’s what Ron Burgundy should deal with.’”

24 hour cable news, of course, also made its appearance at that time, indeed setting up a fertile ground for comedy for Burgundy and his news team.  “This was a huge step for a network like CNN,” Ferrell points out.  “They needed bodies, literally around the clock.  And we thought that’s a great world to force these guys into.  They’re incompetent, but Ron Burgundy is charismatic enough that they’re good enough to be on at two in the morning.”

The period also began the deregulation of news reporting, with the disappearance of The Fairness Doctrine, McKay explains.  “That’s when media started falling apart.  That’s when the first trash news stories appeared, like the Pee-wee Herman story and, in the early 90s, OJ.  News no longer served any kind of function.  So we thought that was a great thing, having a moral conundrum:  do you chase ratings or do you do what you’re supposed to do?  That’s perfect for Burgundy.  Because right away, he’s gonna fail the moral test.”

The concept had immediate appeal to the team members, who also liked McKay and Ferrell’s ability to add social commentary in alongside the comedy.  “The 24 hour news cycle changed the way we all digest news,” says Koechner.  “News used to be a half hour, an hour at most.  Now they have 24 hours of news, and they think they have to fill it.  And they do it by trying to grab the viewer by seeing who’s the loudest.  And we hang on like we want to know every detail, so we have to dig up every detail.”

Adds Carell, “The idea of how 24 hour news has changed our culture is a smart theme that Adam and Will are writing about in this movie, but they never hit it too hard – they don’t put too fine a point on anything.  All of these things are gently woven in to an otherwise extremely silly and absurd movie.”  Rudd notes, “I love what this actually says about news today – and then it goes in all these different directions that have nothing to do with that.